May 18, 2022
We arrived in Catania and first tried to park on a street near our apartment but the guy we were renting the apartment said don’t do that park right in front here, and a guy was leaving so we did that! The apartment was very cute but it seemed like someone was living there! In general, we prefer VRBOs that are set up as vacation homes/rentals. But Massimo was so gracious and left us fruit and coffee! And the apartment was well-located and well-appointed. So it was all good.
Once the car situation was all sorted out and we got the instructions from Massimo, he left and we went out to find dinner and some groceries for breakfast the next day.
May 19, 2022
We headed out late to see the sights of Catania. Too late it seems as all the tours we would like to have booked were already done or full. Hmmmm. A little annoying (…Mark). So we went to the University of Catania which is located in a historic monastery and walked through the public areas. Then we popped into the Chiesa di San Nicolo All’Arena which was a huge church with these parade float things that were carried in it. Walked around some more and found the Ampiteatro di Catania, a really well-preserved Roman amphitheater and Odeon on the Parco Arcologico. They used to do water shows there with boat fights and everything. Lunch at a little restaurant that was still open, and then we continued walking around and toured a few churches, one of which you could climb all the way up the roof! Which Charlotte and I did and got this dramatic photo here as the weather was changing and the sky had become dark and dramatic.
We walked around some more, past the Catania elephant statue and by now Genevieve really wanted a pick-me-up. We stopped at a booth and asked if they had iced coffee. The guy said of course they did! And served us tiny shots of espresso in little paper cups. Genevieve was not amused. We walked around some more and then went back to the apartment to rest before going out again for dinner. The Irish pub that Genevieve wanted to go to was inexplicably closed so we went to a British pub instead and again Genevieve was not amused. I think they didn’t serve Guinness? We ate somewhere forgettable….I know because I have forgotten it. And went back to the apartment to bed.
May 20, 2022
I had originally planned to take a day trip to Siracusa on this day but 1) we didn’t want to move the car and have to try to repark it and 2) we needed to see the stuff we missed yesterday due to getting up too late. So we got up at a decent time and walked past the famous fish market and to the Teatro Massimo Bellini, Catania’s Opera House. Very beautiful opera house, especially the lounge area. Then when we were walking to the Benedictine Monasteries we passed this bar that had a placard outside advertising frozen coffee whip! Well this we had to try. Geneveive was amused! 10/10 for the coffee whip thing.
We got to the Monastero di Benedittini in time for the tour which unfortunately for us was not in English. I say unfortunately because the tour guide was clearly very good and thorough and a lot of what he was saying I could tell was not on the little English translation guides we got. Oh well, Genevieve could follow well enough and filled us in and also we just mostly wanted to see the place and the ruins underground. The 1669 eruption of Mt. Etna had surrounded Catania with lava and it was very slow moving so they tried for a time to head it off until they eventually gave up. The basement is the original structure and it was very interesting to see. We had lunch at a great restaurant with an amazing cheese plate and the best bread, perfect except for the very objectionable conversation coming from the American service people a few tables down. Why they gotta be so awful and sexist and predatory? We then went to the Giardino Bellini, a really nice large public park. The girls got to play on the playground equipment and Mark found a bench.
We had made a reservation at Midori Sushi, which it turns out was totally unnecessary as the place was new and nobody but the five souls whose high reviews we had read on TripAdvisor had actually been there. But the service was great and the food was fantastic! So we were happy to be their sixth good review. There were a couple of American servicemen there too trying to pick up on a Dutch businesswoman which made us a bit uncomfortable but she was certainly old enough to handle herself. That is one thing they say is bad about Catania–too many American service people. We hit up the Irish Pub which was open but the least Irish pub I’ve ever been to….turns out the British pub was actually better!
And so we returned to our apartment for our final evening in Catania.
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